A letter to Caregivers
Written by: VERONICA SALCIDO RODRIGUEZ, MA
Being the primary caregiver to a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia can be very difficult. It is a hard job seldom ask for but falls on the lap of the next to kin and closest loved one to the person who needs the care. Often, these responsibilities are an unplanned, yet a necessary part of life. Being a caregiver means that you care for the person you love the most and you watch them go through their own and sometimes heart wrenching difficulties and transitions. Being a caregiver may also mean you may need to quit your own job, change your own circumstances, or plans things differently. Being a caregiver may bring you feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, sadness, resentment, and isolation. Being a caregiver also you means you have the possibility to provide the best quality of life with dignity for your loved one and honor as they move through the many transitions. You may be a primary caregiver, but you are not alone, and you do not have to do this alone. Being a primary caregiver is more prevalent and common than it is talked about.
An estimated 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2020. Eighty percent are age 75 or older.
- One in 10 people age 65 and older (10%) has Alzheimer’s dementia.
- 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
- About one in three caregivers (34 percent) is age 65 or older.
- Approximately two-thirds of caregivers are women; more specifically, over one-third of dementia caregivers are daughters.
- Approximately one-quarter of dementia caregivers are “sandwich generation” caregivers—meaning that they care not only for an aging parent, but also for children under age 18
Caregiving for a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia may not be easy but you don’t have to do it alone. Something you can do is to reach out for help to extended family, friends, and community. Be honest with yourself and with others about your own emotional and financial needs and physical abilities. Be honest with yourself and with others about the feelings this may bring up for you. Talk to someone such as a therapist about daily life and stress. Plan on how to continue to find joy and fun in the things you have always enjoyed and plan on how you can still be yourself while you navigate being the primary caregiver for a loved one.
Resources:24/7 HELPLINE800.272.3900Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiver Center https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregivingNational Institute on Aging: Alzheimer’s Caregiving https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/alzheimers/caregiving
Written by: VERONICA SALCIDO RODRIGUEZ, MS, Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist 109425. Supervised by Nancy Ruiz-Barnes, MSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker 79552